Hurricane Michael

Valerie Crowder

Hundreds gathered in Mexico Beach on Thursday to celebrate the community’s resiliency one year after Hurricane Michael decimated the small coastal town. 

The side of  a town house is almost so damaged you can see through it. Behind the structure is a beautiful blue sky.
Erich Martin

Just a year after Category 5 Hurricane Michael swept through Florida’s panhandle, the residents in the area are still feeling the aftermath.

Michael wiped through the city of Mexico Beach, ruining homes and businesses in its path. Florida Public Radio Emergency Network Meteorologist, Jeff Huffman, described the hurricane as one of the most historic storms the Panhandle has seen.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Following Hurricane Michael’s destructive path through Florida’s panhandle, headlines painted a grim future for timber, a major industry in the region. The losses were huge – valued at $1.3 billion. Yet not all was lost, as some lumber and paper mills in the region are still going strong.

Trees are broken and crumbled onto a house in a Panama City neighborhood after Hurricane Michael.
Briney King

One year after Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, children and adults are still struggling with the catastrophe and the changes. Homes and schools were damaged, livelihoods were destroyed, and recovery has been slow.

Michael was Tanner Livingston’s first hurricane. “When they still talk about hurricanes, I’m still afraid of them,” he says during an open house at Deer Point Elementary, where he’s a kindergartner.

The family’s Lynn Haven home in Bay County was damaged, and Tanner recounts in detail what happened after they hid in his mom’s closet.

Valerie Crowder

At least 90% of structures in Panama City were damaged in Hurricane Michael. One year later, city officials are about to resume code enforcement actions, and residential property owners say they’re ready for the city to begin cracking down on neglected lots that pose a health and safety hazard to their neighborhoods.

The front of a building is torn off. A hurricane Evacuation Route signs sits on top of the rubble.
Regan McCarthy

Last year, after Hurricane Michael wrought havoc in the Panhandle, school officials began raising concerns about an emergent mental health crisis among students. Bay County Superintendent Bill Hussfelt said in the first four months following the storm, 70 kids had been involuntarily held for mental health treatment through the Baker Act. But in the first two months of this school year, 50 students have already been institutionally committed. 

An empty classroom with blue metal chairs in three rows
Bonnie Brown / Flickr/creative commons

After-school programs in Gadsden are suspended until further notice. The school district’s programs are out of money. However, the superintendent says he hopes the interruption won’t be for long. 

Valerie Crowder

Mexico Beach is receiving the first grant from $25 million in state Hurricane Michael recovery aid that became available to communities in early September. 

Tyndall Air Force Base Facebook Page

Tyndall Air Force officials are working out how they will execute a years-long series of construction projects to rebuild more than half of the military base. 

 

football players in red t-shirts hold their pads and look out over a field
Bobby Caina Calvan / AP Photo/The Associated Press

BLOUNTSTOWN, Fla. (AP) — When the boys clad in red and white charged onto Bowles Field on Friday nights, the townsfolk packing the bleachers at Blountstown High could set aside the week's travails and cheer on the home team Tigers.

 

Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Tuesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave more than $6 million to cities in the Florida panhandle to reimburse them for debris removal and repairing public utilities after Hurricane Michael. Congressman Neal Dunn spoke to entrepreneurs in Tallahassee about his plan to help with the recovery.

Bay County

Bay County’s long-term recovery plan is heading to county commissioners for approval as deadlines for federal housing aid draw closer. 

 

A blue tarp is strapped onto the roof of Callaway's one-room schoolhouse. The school is slanted over the green landscape it rests on.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

The city of Callaway must dismantle and piece back its one-room schoolhouse to save its historical value after being damaged by the storm.

Valerie Crowder - WFSU News

Residents in Panama City are getting the chance to help shape how their hurricane-damaged town will look in the future. 

 

 

Welcome sign for Gulf Coast state college surrounded by green, round bushes
Gulf Coast State College

Gulf Coast State College is pressing forward despite suffering more than $50 million in damage from Hurricane Michael.

Marianna tree fallen hurricane michael
Shawn Mulcahy / WFSU

Eight months after Hurricane Michael slammed Florida’s panhandle, hurricane season has begun and it’s raising concerns for many people who are still struggling to recover. 

Downed trees and power lines stretch for miles in the panhandle. This photo was taken in Panama City on 10/12/2018.
Charley and Briney King

After several delays, congress has signed off on a long-awaited supplemental disaster spending bill. It provides funding for housing in areas hit by Hurricane Michael. Panama City manager Mark McQueen says housing recovery is the community’s number one priority.

After Hurricane Michael, Bay County is rushing to fill open positions. 

Jimmy Patronis speaks to a crowd
Lynne Sladky / AP

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is cheering the passage of the congressional disaster aid package. 

New Home Loan Progams for Hurricane Michael Relief

May 22, 2019

The Florida Housing Finance Corporation is backing two new home loan programs to help Hurricane Michael victims. 

mounds of broken trees line streets as utility trucks and workers work to restore power.
Gulf Power

Florida’s utility regulator has approved rate increases for Gulf Power customers. The money will go to reimburse the company for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael. 

Morgan Martin

Many Hurricane Michael victims are still feeling the effects of the storm.  It not only caused physical damage to the area, but has left scars on the hearts and minds of survivors. 

What remains of this home is a lonely, cream colored chair amid skeleton walls.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU TV

A housing crisis has emerged in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Now state and federal money is on the way to address it as local residents and leaders are growing anxious and frustrated. 

Damaged building at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Tyndall Air Force Base is still recovering from Hurricane Michael. Currently though as construction still takes place no new projects can be started until they receive more funds from the Congress. 

People gathered on a tarmac in front of a plane, with it's stairs down.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU News

President Donald Trump came to Panama City Beach Wednesday. In his campaign rally he promised $448 million in housing funds for the area, which continues struggling seven months after Hurricane Michael hit North Florida.

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